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Author: Julia Hare
Source: The Australian
Date: April 1, 2013

ANOTHER international study has confirmed that marine parks boost commercial fishing stocks outside no-take zones guaranteeing ongoing viability rather than annihilation as commercial fishing as lobbyists claim.

The study found that communities that act locally to limit fish catches reaped commercial benefits by ensuring ongoing stock.

Published in the journal Current Biology, the study looked at five community-owned reef systems in Papua New Guinea. It found the larvae of managed adults returned to the same fish population boosted numbers and rewarded the communities for regulating catchments.

The report runs counter to commercial and recreational fishing interests which argue that marine parks and closely regulated zones threaten the commercial viability of the industry.

The issue has become a topic of heated debate again following a decision by the NSW government decision to allow recreational fishing in no-take zones of marine parks and the reduction of protected zones within some marine parks.

Tom Kompas, director of the Crawford School of Public Policy at Australian National University told the HES: “Unless you had a really clear indication on what was happening to stocks, you just wouldn’t allow any kind of fishing.”

“The point of putting up a marine reserve is to generate sustainability, biodiversity, counteract the random effects that occur.”

Professor Kompas’s area of specialty is economic dynamics, cost-benefit analysis and natural resource and environmental economics.

In a paper written for the journal Solutions earlier this year, Professor Kompas wrote: “The fishing industry has always objected to the use of marine reserves, claiming that closing fishing grounds will simply lower profitability and catch.

“Reserves, put simply, generate a resilience effect, not only biologically, but economically. They act as buffer stocks, where a negative shock to a fishery can be compensated for by spillover effects in fish stocks from a nearby no-take area. This buffer stock effect can be substantial, leading not only to higher catches over time, but both quicker return to profitability and higher sustainable profits”

The new research from the Australian Research Council Centre for Excellence in Coral Studies at James Cook University found that interventions, including marine protected areas, says: “Our results suggest that the use of small marine park areas to protect critical areas such as spawning aggregation can be defensibly justified on the basisof direct local benefits.”

Read article in The Australian